By Bridget Veltri
Director of Communications, Grants and Foundations, Salesian Boys’ & Girls’ Club San Francisco
Attending a gala is a true privilege. It is an opportunity to get dressed up and celebrate, while supporting a worthy cause. Galas and formal fundraisers like them are a balance of giving back and having a good time.
On September 24, 2022, on a warm autumn evening at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco the Salesian Boys’ & Girls’ Club held their 49th Annual Gala, the organization’s largest fundraiser. This elegant event is always a highlight, but this year it was particularly exciting because it was the first since the pandemic.
Alumni, parents, and longtime supporters came together to support The Club and honor this year’s Person of the Year, the incredible Marie Duggan, of the ever popular Original Joe’s restaurants in San Francisco. Duggan has been on The Club’s Board of Directors for over 20 years. She was set to be honored in 2020, so while she was finally officially recognized in 2022, she has actually held this honor for the last three years (by pandemic default), If anyone is worthy of this honor it is most certainly Marie, who can always be counted on for her support, kindness, and heart.
The mood was light and exuberant as 540 attendees enjoyed cocktails, a live auction, dinner, dancing, film about The Club’s extraordinary history, and speeches from Marie and her family, Executive Director Randal DeMartini, and Club Member representative Kamea Kalahele-Espinoza. Being in person to celebrate a wonderful woman and wonderful cause felt all the more important and impactful after not being able to have a gathering of this size for so long.
Funds raised from the live auction and Fund-a-Need went directly to supporting The Salesian Boys’ & Girls’ Club. The Club prides itself on having something for every child it serves including access to organized athletics, fine arts, theater, tutoring, cooking, and life skills along with a scholarship program. The Club’s annual membership fee is only $10.00. Attending the gala helps The Club execute its mission as an organization, ensuring a Club experience for any child that wants one. Contributions from donors offset the real costs: The base cost per Club member, age 8-18, is $5,560. This number includes care five days a week and access to activities like cooking, arts and crafts, tutoring and the facilities. If a Club Member participates in athletics or theater, that number increases.
This year’s gala was wildly successful, and while that is measured in funds raised, this year it is also measured in spirit: the spirit of hope, generosity, community and appreciation of what we have, and what we are able to give.